Friday, December 9, 2011


Monday, Dec 12th
UVU campus rm. GT627
Bring a one-minute classical monologue

Fast-paced rehearsal process: Only 8 rehearsals between Dec.17th and the 28th. (no rehearsals Sundays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the day after Christmas)

Performance dates: Dec. 29th, 30th, 31st and Jan. 2nd at locations in Provo and Salt Lake City
For more info on our audition and casting process, check out:

The Skinny on Auditions
A Peek Inside the Grassroots Audition
Taking Risks: Open Auditions

Monday, October 24, 2011

MACBETH--Company Bios

Davey Morrison has been working with Grassroots Shakespeare since the beginning, and has loved every second of it. Davey played Dogberry in GSC's 2009 production of "Much Ado About Nothing," in the 2011 summer tour he played Touchstone in "As You Like It" and Hermia in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and he's excited to be back to help as a musician for "Macbeth." Davey has performed at the Hale Center Theater Orem, the SCERA Center for the Arts, BYU, and New Play Project; some of his favorite roles include Kilroy in "Don't Drink the Water," Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors," George Spelvin in "The Actor's Nightmare," Mr. Martin in "The Bald Soprano," and Dromio of Syracuse in "The Comedy of Errors." Davey will be graduating from BYU in April 2012 with a degree in film. 

This is Topher Rasmussen's first Grassroots Shakespeare show, and he is loving every second of it. Topher is currently studying theatre at UVU. Recent credits include Demetrius in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (DAC), Brian in "Borderlands" (Plan-B Theatre Company), The Artilleryman in "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds" (The University of Utah), and William Holloway in Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (Utah Valley University). Other favorites include Leonardo in "Blood Wedding", Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing", Autolycus in "A Winter's Tale", and Tiresias in "The Burial At Thebes". He would like to thank his friends and family for their support, and especially Javen Tanner for his brillince and mentoring through the years. 
Wes Tolman is excited to be a part of a Grassroots Shakespeare mainstage production once again! He was a member in the Original company when it was founded several years ago and has participated in many workshops since. Wes graduated from UVU last year with a Bachelors in Performing Arts. Most recently, you may have seen him as Gangster #2 in "The Drowsy Chaperone" at the Hale Center Theater. He has a great love for Shakespeare's works and hopes to do them all his life! Much thanks to my teachers and mentors over the years, namely Chris Clark and John Graham, and my parents for always supporting me in every role I take.

Cameron Is excited to come play with Grassroots at long last. He is from Orem, Utah and is currently studying theatre at BYU. Recent credits include Louis XIII in "The Three Musketeers," Curtis in "Yellow," and Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet;" as well as directing "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "All's Well That Ends Well."

Zoe Wilde is thrilled to be apart of her first Grassroots Shakespeare Company show! Zoe is a Sophomore at UVU majoring in Theater Performance and has been seen in "What the Moon Saw," at the Edinburgh Scotland Fringe Festival, Pimple in "She Stoops to Conquer," at UVU, and Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls" at MVHS. She thanks her fellow cast members for all their brilliance and her family for the never ending support. Enjoy the show.

Dave is an independent producer and advocate for Utah theater based in Salt Lake City. He holds a BA in Theatre Studies from Brigham Young University with an emphasis in directing and dramaturgy. During the past 5 years, he has produced 19 plays including 11 new works by local playwrights. He is a co-founder of Mortal Fools Theatre Project in Provo, and the founder of Directing credits include LITTLE HAPPY SECRETS, and WITHOUT FEAR.

Nicole Allen has a BFA in dance from Brigham Young University, where she performed and choreographed with a modern dance emphasis. She is not an actress, but loves all things Shakespeare and especially Grassroots. She has had a blast working with this cast, and playing around with the music. May the Bard be with you.

Lady Macbeth
Heather Murdock loves theater, especially Shakespeare. Her first performance was in "Twelfth Night," and she has been hooked ever since. Heather has been participating in Grassroots from the moment she heard about them. In their 2011 summer touring company she played Rosalind in "As You Like It," stayed involved as an ensemble member during "Midsummer," and stepped into the role of Lady Capulet in the remount of "Romeo & Juliet." Heather is delighted to be a company member in Grassroots' Halloween production of "Macbeth," and hopes that you enjoy the show. She would like to thank the UVU Theater Department for all the support they have given over the last four years. Especially, Christopher Clark who has been an incredible mentor and friend.

Robbie X Pierce is delighted to be returning to the Grassroots Shakespeare Company after having performed in Romeo and Juliet. He is a founding member of Laughing Matters Sketch Comedy. He recently played Julien in UVU's "Tea With Mint or Lemon" and Ralph in "Frozen" and will next be seen as Ben Weatherstaff in UVU's "Secret Garden." He wants to thank an awesome company. This process has been insane and endlessly rewarding.

Jordan Kramer is super stoked to be a part of such an amazing production. He has spent the last year working with Grassroots' sister company, Utah Shakespeare in the Park, where he performed in "Romeo and Juliet" (Peter), "Uncle Vanya" (Serebrekov), "The Importance of Being Earnest" (Algernon), and "the Merchant of Venice" (Shylock). Other favorites include "Urinetown" at UVU and "Aida" at the Scera. Jordan would like to thank the entire Grassroots family for all their love and support! *Sparkles*

Alex is one of the founding members of The Grassroots Shakespeare Company. He has been seen onstage in Company shows as Benedick, Lord Capulet, Orlando, Titania/Hippolyta, and Peter Quince. Other Shakespeare credits include: Orsino (TWELFTH NIGHT, Utah Valley University), Gonzalo/Stephano/Caliban (TEMPEST, UVU), Pericles (PERICLES, BYU Young Company), and Baptista (TAMING OF THE SHREW, Utah Shakespeare Fest. Touring) 

Nick Grossaint couldn't be more excited to be in another Grassroots production. Nick enjoys loud music, fun, and a good party. After 4 years and 15 shows Nick will be graduating from Utah Valley in the Spring. Nick thanks his friends and family for getting on this rollercoaster with him and enjoying the ride.

Lady MacDuff/Fleance/Doctor
Lily Hye Soo Dixon received her BFA in classical acting at SUU. Recently she was involved with The New York Theatre Int. & EST. Shout out to my husband Eric and to our son Lennon! Love!

Anatasha Blakely has a BFA in classical acting from Southern Utah University and has recently been seen at The Neil Simon Festival, The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company and The New Conservatory Theatre of San Francisco. Bam! Shakespeare!

Leviticus Brown is the largest of the grassroots company. You may have seen him in the summer tour as Oberon, Theseus, William, and Charles the wrestler. His other production credits include, Othello (Othello{understudy}), Twelfth Night (Sir Toby Belch), She Stoops to Conquer (Tony Lumpkin), Holiday Night LIVE! (Various), and many more. Leviticus is currently finishing his BA in Theatre Arts at UVU, and would like to thank his instructors there for the support and mentoring they offer. He hopes that you all have a wonderful time and remember, "Prose before hos."

Eric D. Geels is excited to be joining the cast of Macbeth as his first Grassroots Shakespeare show. Since 8th grade, when Eric was first introduced to theatre, he has had an undying passion for the arts and the role they play in every persons life! Eric has been seen in roles including Beethoven from "Dog Sees God", Malcolm in SUU's production of "Macbeth"' and Dexter in "Darkly Dreaming Dexter". He would like to thank his wife Lily Hye Soo Dixon-Geels for loving and supporting him in everything he chooses; and to their son Lennon for being the greatest thing that has ever happened to him. Also, I love you buddies!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Be a 'Groundling'

So, you are going to come and see Macbeth by the Grassroots Shakespeare Company. There’s no question about that. But why should you buy yard tickets and come as a ‘groundling’ and stand the whole time? Well here are

Nicole Allen’s Top Ten Reasons Why You Should See Macbeth as a ‘Groundling’:

10. It’s cheaper. In this economy? seriously.

 9. You are literally inches away from the actors and all the action.

8. Audience participation. You can’t avoid it when you are leaning on the front of the stage.

7. You’ll be perfectly situated to throw bread and rotten fruit at your least favorite characters.

6. Its COLD outside. Why not stand close to your fellow patrons and actually stay warm?

5. You stand up at rock concerts don’t you?

4. You’ll be in spitting distance. Everyone loves the splash zone at Sea World don’t they?

3. You’ll be called a ‘groundling’. Seriously. How cool is that?

2. Ever wanted to look into the eyes of a murderous lunatic? You’ll get you chance!  (without the real danger of actually getting murdered)

1. Feel like you want to take part in the ‘Occupy Wallstreet’ protests, but can’t? Come be like the 99% of Shakespeare’s day, and stand brother to brother, while getting entertained!

Convinced? Here’s how you get tickets!
Go to  and click on the ‘Buy Tickets’ link.

Not convinced? Then there are still seated gallery seats as well, for the weak of heart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Skinny on Auditions: MACBETH

What you should know:
We're an original practice company--this means we're exploring producing and performing Shakespeare the way it would have been done in his day. How does this apply to our upcoming production of Macbeth?

  • We Have No Director. Directors didn't show up on the scene until two hundred years after Shakespeare kicked the bucket. Macbeth will be produced and staged entirely through the collaborative efforts of the Company.
  • "Whoa whoa whoa! Hold on a minute--how will the show be cast?" Open auditions will seen by current members of the Grassroots Board of Producers, who will make a preliminary determination as to who will be invited to callbacks. 
  • Callbacks: Actors invited to callbacks will have the opportunity to participate in a series of exercises designed to approximate the experience of being a member in the collaboratively staged production.
  • Voting: At the end of the callback, ballots will be distributed and each participant will be asked to nominate 10 of their peers present at the callback to join the company.
  • The Tally: The 10 actors receiving the most votes from their peers will be asked to join the company of Macbeth.
  • Assigning Roles: The newly formed company will meet to conduct readings for specific role assignments in the play. The final cast list will be determined by several rounds of reading, voting, and discussion.

  • The Crunch: Historical documents indicate that renaissance companies had very little rehearsal time. In some cases, it appears that the actors opened a show without ever having rehearsed that show together before, having learned their lines independently and coming together only to run the  fights or music on the morning of the performance.
  • 12 Rehearsals: In an attempt to recreate some of the madcap frenzy of creativity and collaboration that would have existed under such conditions, we will rehearse Macbeth in just 12 short rehearsals.
  • Con Your Lines: Actors come memorized to the first rehearsal. Casting is completed two weeks prior to allow time for learning the lines.
  • Collaborative Staging: Actors come prepared to the first rehearsal with a fully-fleshed out rough draft of their performance. Rehearsals are the time for coordinating those choices and for developing relationships as a company that will translate into performance.
  • Try it Once: All members of the company are expected to contribute to developing the show through assertive input and feedback. If one actor suggests an idea to another actor, he or she is obligated to try it at least once in rehearsal to see if it works for them. Final decisions regarding all choices are left to the individual actor. Call it 'cooperative anarchy'.
  • Actor as Artist: Actors are responsible for the creation of their own characters, including costuming. This is an opportunity for actors to express their vision of the character and their position in the unique world of the play independent of an over-arching concept or design. Costumes and props are all furnished by the actors and are often anachronistic or atypical.
  • A Stone 'O': Performances will take place at the Castle Amphitheatre in a set-up reminiscent of The Globe theatre. Two types of tickets will be available: standing tickets for the yard, and limited ticketing for seating in the galleries.
  • Lose the Fourth Wall: This production will be highly interactive and engaging for all members of audience, but especially for the groundlings who will be mere inches away from the action.


Open Auditions:
Tuesday Sept. 13th
UVU rm. GT631

Please come prepared with a one minute monologue from Shakespeare.

If you are unable to attend during the open audition, please email:
to schedule an appointment.

For further insights into the Grassroots Casting process, check out:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Grassroots ethos in action

At the end of our penultimate rehearsal, mere days away from opening night, we were gathered into a huddle to hear some news and make a decision. There were a couple faces looking worried and stressed, and it seemed like there must be something really bad about to happen. Did the park revoke our permission to perform? Did somebody’s relative die, and they have to be at the funeral? 
Turns out that one of our own, the fabulously talented Holly Davies (who has created perhaps the sexiest Puck in the history of the world) has been offered the most tremendous opportunity. She’s been given a role in a BBC pilot without even auditioning! (yep, she’s just that good.) There’s just one problem:
Filming goes late into the night on both Monday and Tuesday, our scheduled opening night and second performance.  She hasn’t told them yes, because she wanted to talk to all of us first. She didn’t want to let us down. 
We all looked at Holly. There were tears in her eyes as one of her cast mates held her shoulders and we all cried out how marvelous! How amazing! Congratulations! Eve spoke perhaps for all of us when she said, “It never even occurred to me that you wouldn’t TAKE it! Of course you should do it! We’re all behind you.”

That’s Grassroots. That’s the magic of a group of people working for free at what they love, with people they respect, with this as the highest aim: to make great theatre from scratch with nothing but the script, the company and the passion we all share, and bring it to the people of London because it’s what we love to do.

We’re all behind Holly 100%, with pride far outweighing any envy or sadness because we’ve also decided we’re not canceling. Oh no, not Grassroots. We’re going on! We’re putting off opening until Weds, and performing Monday and Tuesday as open dress rehearsals with our friend Adam Elliot standing in as Puck. At the end of these previews there will be a chance to get feedback from the audience and a Q & A about Grassroots and “original practices”. In losing Holly for those two performances, we’ve all gained a deeper sense of community and support, a serious pride in our cast mate’s brilliant gig, and the chance to “perform” for an audience while still rehearsing! 

How did that happen? We ALL won! 

And this, perhaps, is what I love most about Grassroots. When 12 gorgeous and talented people have your back, you go out feeling like a champion and knowing that your world will be rocked by the people you’re playing with. You go out expecting surprises and gifts, spontaneity and wonder and damn fine work from all your fellows. When 12 generous and creative performers have your back, you’re safe to open your heart or even fall on your ass. You’re even safe to leave, knowing it won’t be the same without you but that you’re also not letting us down.

I call that magical. I call that one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.

Thank you, Grassroots Original London Cast, for being who you are. Congratulations Holly, we love you and will miss you and will do our best to rock those shows in your honor. Thank you in advance to the audiences who watch us wrangle with an unexpected situation and still come out punching!

And while we’re at it, thank you Mr. Shakespeare. You wrote a damn fun play.

-Ponder Goddard

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A peek inside the Grassroots audition process!

We all know what a typical audition entails; you walk onto a bare stage, introduce yourself to a vaguely discernible casting director sitting somewhere out in the fourth-wall ether, and then (if you're lucky) launch headlong into a monologue that you have spent weeks preparing.  Almost immediately, you finish, head out the door, and await the results with baited breath for days, sometimes weeks.  Grassroots auditions are... different.

From the very first moment of auditions, you are part of an ensemble.  You're encouraged to give and take feedback from your fellow auditioners.  You're urged to speak directly to them during your performance, and to notice and use the surrounding environment effectively.  In some ways it's a bit daunting, trying to stand out and be heard in the middle of a vast park, and having your audition piece openly scrutinized by strangers.  But in other ways, it can be quite satisfying to let the energy of an audience enliven your performance, and to foster a sense of community with your peers.  Auditions are never easy, but Grassroots auditions are, at the very least, unique.

The most difficult, and perhaps the most important part of the Grassroots auditions, is the voting.  After devising a few scenes in small groups, and performing them for each other, the recalled group of actors write up confidential ballots, listing the people they would most like to work with.  After that, a simple tally determines the company.  For those who, for whatever reason, don't make the final cut, it can be pretty disappointing.  But those who do make the company find an instant network of supportive, trusting, enthusiastic friends, each of whom are there because of each other's votes.

The instant bond created by this exciting, if harrowing process, allows us to jump straight into rehearsals.  And for Grassroots, that's an absolute necessity.  We only have ten days, after all.  There's no time for trust-falls or bridge-building.  The connections have to be there from day one.  If we're trying to approach Shakespeare the way his original players did, then we need an incredibly cohesive, tight-knit group, like they had.  So, although it can be dispiriting for those who feel rejected by the voting (and the difference between total validation and total rejection is often just a single vote), it is incredibly beneficial to the creation of an enthusiastic and sincerely collaborative ensemble.

If you like what we do, please help us by sharing with your friends and family!  In England, follow us at Grassroots Shakespeare · London on facebook, or @grassroots_lon on twitter.  Our upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream promises to be a surprising and enchanting event!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The First Blog Post of the New Grassroots British Shakespeare Company

The First Blog Post of the New Grassroots British Shakespeare Company

It’s been an interesting road to get to this point. I’ve never gone through an audition process quite like this: so relaxed, open. From the instant we all met, the method seemed almost designed to make us into a company. Performing monologues in front of each other was an audition experience I’d had only once before, auditioning for drama school (at the end of which, I got in). It’s amazing the difference it makes to your performance to have a supportive audience. Nerves melt away with the laughter or rapt attention that accompanies the performance. By the end of the day, I felt like I knew everyone and they al l knew me. There was no worry about who would get in and who wouldn’t because we all felt we’d been given an equal opportunity. We knew that no matter what, whoever made up the company would be talented and fun to work with.

I could talk about the recall but I would basically be repeating myself: the exact same enjoyable experience except with fewer people. By the end of it, however, there was an excitement: only thirteen of us could make it and every one of us (you could tell) desperately wanted to get in. Not just to act but because it would be so much fun to act with these people.

And so it was with much joy that I discovered I was to be part of the group. Additionally, I would be fulfilling a life long dream of mine: to perform Shakespeare in London in the open as Shakespeare intended. From a very young age, I have enjoyed Shakespeare’s work and wanted to perform it in the country of its origin. That’s why I went to drama school here and it is the reason I decided to start my acting career here. A year out of drama school, doing mostly film work, I am now back doing what I love - Shakespeare’s theatre - and I cannot think of a better company with which to start.

We had our first meeting as a company last week and it felt like I was meeting old friends. We all indicated openly the roles we wanted to play and quite naturally it seemed that everybody got what they wanted.

So as I eagerly embark on our first week of rehearsals, I am full of confidence, not just in myself but in the whole group. I already feel trust in every actor and that together we will create something truly amazing.

Aaron Tavaler

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2011 London Company Announced!

After careful deliberation (read: playing in Hyde Park) and much reflection (read: chatting at Starbucks), Grassroots Shakespeare · London is pleased to announce almost the entire cast of our upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream!

Oberon/ Thesus - Noah Young
Titania/ Hyppolita - Ponder Goddard
Lysander - Eve Winters
Demetrius - Harrie Hayes
Helena - Jennifer Dawn Williams
Hermia - Sarah Jayne-Harris
Bottom - Aaron Travaler
Quince - Grace Kennedy
Snout - Liam Webster
Starveling - Siobhan Daly
Snug/ Egeus - Cornelia Baumann
Flute - Mark Oram
Puck/ Philostrate - Holly Davies

Keep reading over the coming weeks to learn more about this wonderful troupe of actors!  They are delightful, talented, and a bit mad - they're London's first Grassrooters!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

American Shakespeare Center Intern

Hi Grassrooters,

Thanks to all our fans for such an incredible season. I still think about it everyday. What a wonderful opportunity it was to be involved with such talented performers, and enthusiastic audiences.

I love what we do so much, I just had to get out to some of the other places that do Original Practice. The big epicenter in the States is the American Shakespeare Center where they have a recreation of Shakespeare's first indoor theater, the Blackfriar's, so named because it was built inside a monastery. I'm here this summer doing an internship on Early Modern Theater Structures. So it's my job to learn everything I can about the playhouses of the period. No small task, because Londoners loved the theater, and wanted as much of it as they could get... Well kind of. There were also those who snubbed the Playhouses and wanted to shut them down all the time. Which is where we get most of our information really; legal documents and contracts from the likes of Philip Henslowe.

I'm especially excited to do a little more research on the touring operations of playing companies of the period in lue of our touring season. Our wine barrel based stage could be among the more authentic touring stages in the world.

Thanks again for a wonderful season, and I hope to find lots of good facts for ye Shakespeare lovers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TRIPLE HEADER: Summer Tour 2011 Finale!

You asked for it, and we're giving it to you! By popular demand, we're adding one more blowout show to finish off our smash hit Summer Tour! Triple Header--come see one, come see two, or if you're feeling really adventurous then come see all three shows in one night!

Castle Amphitheatre 1300 E Center St. Provo
Monday, June 27th 

7:00pm 'As You Like It'
8:30pm 'Midsummer Night's Dream: All-Male Cast'
9:45pm 'Romeo and Juliet: Encore'
    Each show runs ~1hr 15min

$7 for all three! 
$5 for one or two!

Here's what audiences have been saying:

"Amazing. I haven't laughed that hard in a very long time!"
-Katie Fullmer

"I've never enjoyed Shakespeare quite like I did last night at Liberty park."
-Karli McKinnon

"Romeo and Juliet plus A Midsummer Night's Dream at Liberty Park tonight: ...Probably the best free entertainment available. And better than stuff people pay for, too. Keep up the excellent work my friends!"
-Jason Kelly

"Absolutely top notch stuff"
-Randall McNair

More details HERE.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Wednesday, June 1,
6 pm 'As You Like It'
Eagle Mountain Arts Fest

Friday, June 3,
7:30 pm 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Provo Tabernacle Park

Saturday, June 4,
6:15 pm 'Romeo and Juliet'
8 pm 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Orem Community Park

Monday, June 6
7 pm 'As You Like It'
Kiwanis Park Provo

Wednesday June 8
1 pm 'As You Like It'
UVU Quad

Friday, June 10
7:30 'As You Like It'
Orem Summerfest

Saturday, June 11
6:15pm 'Romeo and Juliet'
8pm 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Liberty Park SLC

Monday, June 13
7:30 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Rock Canyon Park- Provo

Wednesday, June 15
11 am 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
UVU Alumni House Lawn

Friday, June 17
7:30 pm 'As You Like It'
Pleasant Grove Strawberry Days

Saturday, June 18
6 pm 'As You Like It'
7:30 pm 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Logan Summerfest

Monday, June 20
7 pm 'As You Like It'
8:30 pm 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Orem Center Park

Friday, June 24
7:30 pm 'As You Like It'
9 pm 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Nielsen's Grove Park

Saturday, June 25
7:30 pm 'As You Like It'
9 pm 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Kaysville Heritage Park

Monday, June 27th
7:00pm-'As You Like It'
8:30pm-'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
9:45pm-'Romeo and Juliet'
Castle Amphitheatre Provo
(Ticketed Show)

All shows ~1hr 20min
(Suggested Donation: $3)

Check out the events on Facebook:
'As You Like It':
'A Midsummer Night's Dream':
'Romeo and Juliet':

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Good Times Great Shakes

Things are looking good for us as we prepare to rehearse our second show: A Midsummer Nights Dream. We've had so much fun with rehearsals for As You Like It, and we're excited to show everyone what we've got come May 30th. I feel that our hard work is really paying off, and to the blogging world out there, I'd like to give a fresh view of how we work and how we play.

In a conversation with Davey I realized that we're putting in a work load somewhere between a full time and a part time job. We've spent 4 hours every week night on rehearsal, anyone who's been available has been working on building the touring stage during the day, and of course we've all spent lots of time outside rehearsal anxiously memorizing. At the end of week two we were all pretty exhausted. Never fear however, we're taking the weekend to recover, and we'll be back at it.

But, just to catch you up, here are a few of the adventures we've had so far:

-A few of us celebrated "Cinco de Mayo" by going out to Del taco after rehearsal. It was then that Robbie challenged me to eat a dozen tacos, with the promise he'd pay for them if I managed to eat them. Naturally I accepted the challenge, and to the general astonishment of those present I proceeded to down a dozen tacos. The taste Del Taco cheese seems to linger in my mouth still.

-As we were leaving Del Taco, the employee's stopped me for a picture. I'm still not sure why, it might have to do with the sombrero I was wearing. So the group all huddled up for Cinco de Mayo picture with the Del Taco stuff. Cinco de Shakespeare!

-Dan, Aubrey and I listened to Ray's cowboy poetry at village inn

-We fell in and out of love with the new Theater behind the Orem City Library. We took our rehearsal there for shelter from the rain, and we've rehearsed there every day since. It's nice, but a little tricky on the acoustic end. We're excited to perform there this summer, but we're starting to miss the sunsets at Scera park and our Grassroots tree.

-Thursday's rehearsal was great. We had a lot of enthusiastic bystanders watch parts of the show. One I remember in particular was an old man, with an even older man in a wheel chair. Greg's sister-in-law commented, "That was the most entertained I've ever been watching Shakespeare." They really enjoyed our rehearsal and we enjoyed having an audience.

So grassroots fans, our shows are on their way. We're having lots of fun and we know you will too. We'll have our schedule out to you soon, so you can plan on seeing all three of our shows and bringing all your friends, family, extended relations, and co-workers!

See you soon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 1: As You Like It

Yesterday was our first rehearsal for "As You Like It" and rehearsing once again in the park felt a bit like coming home.
When we first started this crazy experiment that has become the Grassroots Shakespeare Company we took to the free and open space of the public parks out of necessity--we had nowhere else to rehearse and nowhere else to perform, but now we embrace the advantages of public spaces by choice.
We arrived at the park to discover that there was some sort of volleyball tournament happening with two or three volleyball courts set-up all around our usual rehearsal spot.
No matter. We unpacked our set and with volleyball games happening on either side of us, we got down to business blocking our show.
The rehearsal went pretty smoothly, and although we're still in the mode of remembering and rediscovering our old process, we fell into a nice rhythm by the end of the night that we can only hope will continue.
We were also graced by Master Christopher Clark--without whom we would not exist and who has done much to support our company. Chris taught us a bawdy 3/4 jig that we're sure you'll find to be rollicking good fun. (provided we ever get the sequence down)
Between dodging stray volleyballs and the unfortunate dimness after sunset caused by loss of one of our worklights, we managed to make pretty good progess: Our script has been cut down to a lean 75 pages, and we almost met our goal of blocking through 25, but had to end at 22.
Perhaps by the end of May we'll have improved both our diction and our return serves!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Shakespeare!

Today we celebrate Mr. Shakespeare's 447th birthday!
Also, as of today, The Grassroots Shakespeare Company is an officially recognized and legally qualified non-profit organization!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Summer Touring Shows

This Summer we aim to be more ambitious than ever before.

We're going to assemble two shows in May and perform them in Rep throughout June.
On top of that, we'll be attempting a remount of last year's production of Romeo and Juliet.
It's going to be a whirlwind ride and there's always the distinct possibility of epic failure.

Our season isn't determined by an artistic director, a producer, or even a director. Our shows are picked by the company who will perform them. That's our philosophy--get the right people on board first, and it doesn't matter so much what show you end up doing, because you'll already have a talented and committed group of artists ready to tackle just about anything.

Last week we assembled our company in a most unusual manner. We let everyone who attended callbacks vote on who they thought should join the company.

Earlier this week, we met for the first time as an ensemble and voted on which shows we should produce.
There were a lot of great suggestions and even more good arguments:

The Main Show
We've got nine men and five women in the company this year. We decided that the main show should offer ample opportunity for the women to showcase their talents, as the Second Show we're doing will, in the spirit of true original practices, feature an all-male cast.
We threw around a lot of titles, but the main contenders were:
The Winter's Tale
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Twelfth Night
As You Like It
As Hamlet offers few parts for women, it was out of the running almost immediately. We gradually narrowed it down to Winter's Tale, Midsummer, and As You Like It, and after much deliberation on the merits of each work, settled on As You Like It for it's accessibility, broad appeal, numerous female roles, and strong ensemble characters.

The Second Show
This is new territory for Grassroots. We've never done an all-male show before, and carefully weighed the pros and cons of each possible title. Those most in the running were:
Taming of the Shrew
Twelfth Night
Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Hamlet and Macbeth both offered the possibility of strong dramatic female roles. Taming of the Shrew and Merry Wives of Windsor both came with the added bonus of advertising a show with references to women in the title--who would be played by men! Twelfth Night carried the fantastic challenge of a man playing a woman playing an man and the comic confusion that audiences both modern and Elizabethan would have delighted in. After talking things over, the vote came down between Merry Wives and Midsummer: Merry Wives being a strong choice for lovable Falstaff and the intrigue of seeing Mistress Ford and Mistress Quickly being played by men, and Midsummer offering accessibility and stronger name recognition.
In the end we went with Midsummer because it will resonate with audiences who have likely seen it before and will be familiar with the story, but in a new way--as we will wager that few have seen it staged with an all male cast.

The Remount
Of all our plans, this one will likely be the most challenging to pull off. We'll have to work hard to get as many of our former company members together again for a short rehearsal process--perhaps only 2 or 3 evenings. And this will be on top of an already crammed schedule. All the same, we're going to go for it! Hold us to it!

2011 Summer Touring Season:

As You Like It

A Midsummer Night's Dream--All Male Cast

Romeo and Juliet: Encore Presentation

All performances in June. 
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Taking Risks: Open Auditions and Trusting the Crowd

Back in the Day

Actors in Shakespeare's day were able to put on ten or more different plays in the space of two weeks. There are several factors that could have made this possible:

1. They had a large volume of plays in their repertoire--and while they rarely performed the same title on two consecutive days, (Or even in the same week) they did on occasion resurrect a popular popular show for an encore performance.

2. The actors consistently played similar types. We know that Will Kemp played such foolish clowns as Dogberry in Much Ado, Peter in R and J, and Launcelot Gobbo in Merchant, while Richard Burbage was known for playing strong leads such as Othello, Richard III, Hamlet, and Lear. If an actor was accustomed to playing a specific type, it would have required much less time and effort for him to learn and develop the part.

3. The actors worked under a company system, and were used to working closely and cooperatively with one another. They must have had an enormous trust and confidence in one another's abilities in order to produce with the speed they did and under  the rigorous conditions they worked in.

What does this mean for Grassroots?

Well to begin with, we do not have a large repertoire, but we will be attempting to remount last year's production of Romeo and Juliet in the spirit of those early companies.

Second, we will be casting our shows democratically--which tends to favor and encourage the sort of type casting that would have been prevalent in Shakespeare's day. More on that in another post.

Third, while we do our best to work under a company system, our track record thus far has been less than ideal. At the beginning of our second year, we had only two of our original twelve company members return for our second season. This year is a little better: We have six of last year's thirteen coming back for another season.

Our first two companies were hand-picked by the producers. This was done in an attempt to ensure that we were getting actors who were not only talented, but had somewhat of a history working together.

This year, in an effort to be more open and inclusive of all hoping to join the company, we held our first ever open auditions. This is a huge risk for us, as speed of rehearsal and production is of the utmost importance for us.

We've planned just ten short rehearsals for each of our new shows this Summer.
How will we beat the steep learning curve that accompanies the rehearsal process for actors unaccustomed to working with one another?

We've decided to take a bold risk in a gambit to build maximum company solidarity in the shortest possible amount of time.

Open Auditions and Callbacks

We held our open auditions and were pleasantly surprised by the volume of interest from the community. We ended up inviting back about twenty-eight people for callbacks.

Here's where things get interesting:

Many of our former company members were among those who auditioned and were invited to callbacks. No one got a free pass. This year instead of inviting everyone back, we invited back no one. Everyone, including former company members had to prove themselves valuable and committed to the group.

Callbacks were full of great energy and competitive talent right from the start.
We were interested in seeing how well people could work together under limited time, so we randomly divided into groups and gave each one a copy of Sonnet 29 and allotted ten minutes of rehearsal to develop the text into some sort of performance.

Some groups focused on choral reading and movement. Other groups divided up the lines and worked on characterization. Each piece was unique and fascinating to watch. Things were off to a great start.

We then switched gears to give every individual present a chance to show their stuff. 

Each participant got one minute to perform a Shakespearean monologue we had asked them to come prepared with.  Then the entire crowd gave feedback: everyone raised their hands and the person performing was allowed to choose three people to deliver feedback or suggestions. After hearing suggestions, the performer was given thirty seconds to incorporate the suggestions in performance.  It was fast-paced, energetic and full of creative choices on the parts of both performers and crowd. We saw some of the most entertaining and colorful performances I've ever seen in a callback. Everyone was given the chance to shine and most did so in a way that delighted and surprised all present.

The Vote

Then came the hard part.  Everyone had performed and seen every performance. It was all out on the table. There was no director there to impress or perform for, and no committee to make the decisions. At this point, we passed out ballots to all the performers present at callbacks and instructed them to vote for the ten individuals who gave the strongest performances and worked best with the group.

The Talley

As we collected ballots, I thought: "I've been a part of this company for two years now. What if I get voted out?"

And that was both terrifying and exhilarating. All the members of the board had agreed that this was the system we would use to determine the company, and no one would be given special treatment.

It was an agonizing evening as we all waited for the results to be calculated.

Finally, when all the numbers were added, we had some pretty definitive results. Most of our former company members who auditioned made the cut, but we did lose one, and that was painful. But there's also a huge payoff here. Everyone who made the company made it because they were voted in, and there's a sense of gravity to that. There's also an automatic sense of camaraderie because when it comes down to it, I'm here because you voted for me, and you're here because I voted for you. There's no director or producer to owe, only a sense of collective obligation and respect for one another from the responsibility that comes from mutual selection. 

The Payoff

So when does the payoff come? Well we sat down and had our first company meeting this week, and it went better than planned. There's already a great chemistry and excitement in the group that we can only hope will endure and increase.

But at the end of the day, the payoff can only truly be measured by the quality of our product. If our company puts on a good show, then and only then can we know that we're a good company.

Friday, April 8, 2011

2011 Touring Company Announced!

The GSC is pleased to announce the ensemble cast for 2011:

Davey Morrison
Cherie Julander
Daniel Anderson
Leah Williams
Robbie Pierce
Jessamyn Svensson
Kyle Oram
Daniel Whiting
Leviticus Brown
Greg Larsen
Aubrey Bench
Nick Grossaint
Heather Murdock
Alex Ungerman

Thank you to everyone who auditioned!

(If you would like to be notified of future auditions, performances, or workshops, like us on Facebook.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

RICHARD III: Play-in-a-Day Success!

Our lastest Play-in-a-Day endeavor was another smashing success!
A big round of applause for our fantastic cast that brought the show to life:

Kyle Oram
Brett Merritt
Chelsea Frandsen
Annie Pulsipher
Haleigh Cole
Leviticus Brown
Zoe Wilde
Lianna Manibog
Paul Wuthrich
Katie Sue Sullivan
Ellesse Hargreaves
Aaron Gaines
Mara Davi Gaines
Kat Webb
Amy Smith
Greg Larsen
Bonnie Larsen
Eric Phillips
Matt Carlin
Alex Ungerman
Daniel Whiting
Aubrey Warner


We'd also like to acknowledge those behind the scenes who put in some serious blood, sweat, and tears pulling this all together:

Script Editors:
Trevor Robertson
Kyle Oram
Daniel Anderson
Alex Ungerman
Jessamyn Svensson

Kyle Oram
Trevor Robertson
Alex Ungerman
Daniel Anderson

Daniel Whiting
Alex Ungerman

Elisa Bushman

Fight Choreography:
Matt Carlin

Elisa Bushman
Eric Phillips

J Kelly Oram
Elisa Bushman

To see more pics of this epic show, Check out
our album on Facebook!

And last but not least, thanks to the great audience that turned up to see the show!